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2006 Grant - Eby
Fitness to Drive in Early-Stage Dementia: An Instrumented Vehicle Study
David W. Eby, Ph.D.
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, Michigan
2006 Investigator-Initiated Research Grant
Persons with early-stage dementia often continue to drive after being diagnosed and may continue to do safely for a while. It is difficult, however, for individuals with dementia, physicians and family members to determine when driving abilities are no longer safe. Significant changes in driving abilities may occur between regularly scheduled appointments with the physician. Formal driving tests may not pick up on typical errors, especially since the instructor usually gives cues about where to go.
Many relevant questions are difficult to answer. Is the driver getting lost in familiar areas? Is he taking more time to go to and from a familiar location? Is he driving at the appropriate speed and following road signs? Is he stopping for no apparent reason in the middle of the road? Do his driving patterns suggest confusion at intersections?
David Eby, Ph.D., and colleagues are evaluating a recently developed in-vehicle monitoring device that automatically collects detailed information about a person's driving skills in day-to-day settings. The device will be used to monitor the driving of research participants who have been diagnosed with dementia. The researchers will compare the monitoring data with the perceived ability of the drivers, as characterized by the drivers themselves, family members and specialists in driving assessments.
The outcome of this work may demonstrate the utility of the monitoring device and provide a tool for helping families transition from driving to other transportation options at appropriate times.